If you’re like me and use Tomcat and you want to bring down the size of your WAR, you’re faced with one issue: All your applications need to use the same libraries (since there is only a single common/lib for everyone). So you’re either stuck with an old version or you need to upgrade all your apps at the same time. I just can see the budget guys shake their heads.
The solution is a list of directories in your context.xml which contain specific versions of the libraries you need. This way, you can install all the versions you need and each app can pick and choose.
For the complete solution, see the original article: Extending Tomcat WebappLoader to Share Library jars
OSS for teh win! 🙂